San Diego County mask guidance unchanged amid concern over delta variant

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — County leaders said Tuesday that they don’t foresee changes to local mask guidance amid growing concern over the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Los Angeles County health leaders on Monday strongly recommended everyone wear masks in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status to combat the rapid spread of the highly-contagious virus mutation.

Mask wearing guidance in San Diego County remains unchanged, though the county is closely monitoring the variant, Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

His office said almost 95% of local delta variant cases involve people who weren’t fully vaccinated.

“We continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 and in particular the delta variant and want to emphasize the single best action you can take to protect yourself and your family is to be fully vaccinated,” Fletcher’s statement said. “We will continue to align our public health guidance with CDC and CDPH and do not anticipate any changes.”

The delta variant originated in India and is blamed for rampant infections and outbreaks in the United Kingdom and beyond. Federal health officials estimate up to 20% of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. are now due to the delta variant.

Dr. Abisola Olulade at Sharp Rees-Stealy said the delta variant is concerning and more transmissible than the alpha variant first found in the United Kingdom. Although she and other doctors agree vaccination is the best defense against COVID-19, she said a vaccine does not mean anyone is fully protected.

“If you’ve been vaccinated, your risk is not zero,” Olulade said. It doesn’t mean that the vaccines are not effective. We have seen there have been people that have died, even after being vaccinated and so the risk isn’t zero, but you are protected based on all of the studies that we see.”

It likely is not the last variant that we will see, she said.

“Not only has the virus not gone away, but it’s actually getting worse and we can continue to expect that,” she said. “If people are unvaccinated, then essentially the virus can continue to propagate and eventually learn how to be more dangerous and more effective at what it wants to do, which is to infect as many people and cause deaths.”

L.A. County’s health department urged mask wearing at businesses and workplaces, including grocery and retail stores, theaters, family entertainment centers and anywhere indoors when the vaccination status of other workers is unknown.

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